Trends to get simpler, revenues to post increase

Though other sectors appear to be slowing, experts forecast a growth year for children's wear. Although slowing with the rest of apparel sales, childrens clothing revenues at retail are still expected to be the only apparel sector to post a year-over-year increase in 2008.Children's clothing sales are forecast to gain 2.5 to 3% this year, which in contrast expects women's apparel sales as a group to decline at least 2%, and men's apparel to show no growth.

Children's fashions for next fall are not as embellished as in recent seasons, although there are still well placed embroidery or studs, as well as other details, like argyle updated with hearts or ruffled cuffs.

Cutie Patootie Clothing, Los Angeles is still doing a lot of baby-doll styles, but is more focused on the sleeves now, that are going to be longer and puffy. They still add cute stitching and embroidery on the back pocket of denims, but it's a cleaner look than a few years ago when they'd put rhinestones and studs all over. This brand has also designed colored denim in jewel tones with a hint of gold or silver thread.

According to Fashion Snoops, a New York forecasting service, the "ripe" fall palette of jewel tones is expected to include occasional splashes of bold turquoise, yellow and bright pink. Colored denim is going to be in demand, with skinny silhouettes sharing the stage with wider leg styles. However, skinny is expected to continue, especially with these long tunic tops.

At Kangaroo Kids Clothing, leggings are paired with a wrap corduroy skirt with cargo back pockets. Tops have accents like patchwork patterns, unfinished seams, flared bell sleeves and simple embroidery around the necklines. With color, Kangaroo Kids is taking the jewel tones down a notch by emphasising tan, taupe, plum, gray, bone and black a vintage palette.

The color scheme also helps in mixing and matching separates. A trend towards retailers ordering kids' separates instead of sets is also predicted. Also lending itself to mixing and matching is a recast preppy look a trend spotted in Europe among manufacturers.

Pleated skirts, jodhpuris, wide rugby stripes on shirts and dresses, piping and banding on blazers, riding jackets with elbow pads and crests that are of animals and characters, are some elements in the upcoming nouveau preppy look with lot of camel and brown with pinks and roses, lace insets and ruffles.

The eco-friendly clothing trend for kids will continue to grow in popularity, as will all shades of the colour green, which are popping up in next fall-winter kids' clothing colour palettes. Green signifies the whole eco-friendly movement. Purity is behind the creation of Los Angeles-based Kicky Pants, a new line of baby-to-toddler dresses, pants, shirts, pajamas and underwear made.


  • Colour palettes include warm jewel tones, like deep red, purple, plum and jade; print and stripe combinations, and anything green.
  • Licensed character clothing remains popular with kids.
  • Layered knit leggings or knit skirt, jacket and top sets trimmed in lace and fur.
  • Nouveau hip-preppy styles, such as riding jackets with colorful piping and whimsical crests of animals and characters.
  • Delicate embroidered accents on pants, necklines, cuffs. Patches on elbows.

From bamboo textiles in pale jewel tones of pink, blue, light brown, spring grass and cream. Bamboo is a sustainable crop requiring no fertilisers. The fabric drapes almost like silk, but it's similar to cotton. The bamboo textiles also allow designing of form-fitting pajamas, which means they don't have to be coated with fire retardant under federal sleepwear safety rules protecting against billowy pajamas from catching ablaze.


One trend that doesn't seem to slow down is character licensing for apparel, particularly sleepwear. The characters don't always have to come from Hollywood, either.

Canadian sleepwear company Jelli Fish Kids is marketing its Max and Ruby licensed kids' sleepwear in the US, based on the popular Canadian children's TV show that's also seen on American cable programming.

For fall, Jelli Fish is also launching its first US kids' licensed sleepwear line, Frankie and Johnny. For girls, the line is collaboration with an established women's sleepwear maker in Hopkins, Minn., by the same name. Jelli Fish's Frankie and Johnny two-piece coat pajama sets come in cow and moon, butterfly, rock 'n' roll and peace and love prints.

Children's clothing sales are forecast to gain 2.5 to 3% this year, according to forecasting firm, NPD Group, which in contrast expects women's apparel sales as a group to decline at least 2%, and men's apparel to show no growth.

"Kids' apparel is the last area to get hit when there's a recession and consumers are cutting back," says Marshal Cohen, NPD's chief apparel industry analyst. Last year, children's apparel sales gained 6%. Like other apparel, the pinch in children's sales is being felt across retail channels, starting with high-end merchants. While wealthy consumers haven't put the breaks on buying children's fashion, middle-class shoppers, once flush with cash, are weighing the need for these purchases more carefully.

Consequently, the mid-level retailers like J.C. Penney, Kohl's and Macy's would get some of their consumers back. At the same time, mass merchants are in line to absorb sales for kids' apparel from among cash-strapped middle-class consumers.

Among independent retailers one can notice the tough economic times. New York-based Krawlers, maker of organic cotton baby and toddler apparel, sold in some 500 specialty stores, balances sales between the company's midtier Krawlers brand (wholesale cotton jersey and denim separates and sets are priced $7 to $17.50) and a higher end organic cotton label, Egg Baby, produced in partnership with designer Susan Lazar (with wholesale separate prices from $25 to $35).

Despite watching their household budgets, Americans are still on the prowl for good fashion and design for children, which includes keen interest in organic apparel. The key is for brands and retailers to have the right assortment of in-season and preseason products and fashion and basics. Too many stores are going to get conservative. Likewise, the shifting consumer market also spells opportunities for independent kids' apparel vendors, NPD says.

One trend that appears to be recession-proof in the kids' market for boys and girls is silk-screened T-shirts, hoodies and onesies with phrases and graphics that strike a political or artistic chord with adults. "Change Is Good" is one election-year message that's popular at Rebel Ink Baby in St.Paul, which sells its $10 wholesale onesies and T-shirts to 80 boutiques in 27 states and Canada. A hot Rebel Ink shirt sold in eight New York boutiques says, "I Love My Gay Uncle." "The baby shirts are moving quicker than the other merchandise," says Todd Turfler, who runs Rebel Ink with his wife, Lisa Reiter, and whose latest design is a baby peering through bars saying, "I Live in a Gated Community."

Silk-screening on baby and children's apparel is also a key part of skateboard and surfing fashion, which spills into the overall street fashion scene. The market begins with the younger parents who are all over cooler in fashion for their child. They don't want the truck and train patterns they had to deal with, feel retailers.

Kids wanting to be themselves are behind the new United Kingdom label Vintage Kit, which started in April 2007 with an e-commerce site and storefront in Bath, England. The line is inspired by the old British "Janet and John" series of early story books. It boils down to old-fashioned kids being kids, but it's still cool. A pair of leggings that could be Chaps wholesales for $18 while a turquoise shirtdress with black winter raised pattern and brown-and-green plaid cropped jacket, for $28 wholesale, could fit an aspiring Annie Oakley.

Source: NPD and Various Online News Sources